Hungary criticised for abuse of refugees

By bne IntelliNews July 14, 2016

Hungarian soldiers and police have used excessive violence against migrants on the country's southern border with Serbia, a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed on July 13.

While international organizations and NGOs have repeatedly condemned Hungary for failing to comply with international standards regarding asylum-seekers, the Hungarian government has staunchly rejected those claims. Undeterred, the ruling Fidesz party is now organising a national referendum on the EU’s migrant quota system on October 2.

Tighter boarder controls introduced by Hungary last month have left hundreds of refugees stuck in "no man’s land” in deteriorating conditions, at the razor-wire fence built last year, HRW reports. According to the new regulations, migrants apprehended within 8km of the border can be returned to Serbia without any legal procedure. 

“People who cross into Hungary without permission, including women and children, have been viciously beaten and forced back across the border,” says the NGO.

A group of 30-40 migrants claims to have been beaten by soldiers for two hours. "They tied our hands with plastic handcuffs on our backs. They beat us with everything, with fists, kicks, and batons,” one unnamed man is quoted as saying. Another group – including women and children – claimed that they were brutally beaten and abused before being pushed back to Serbia.  

The Hungarian government did not respond to HRW’s requests for comment on the cases, but last month rejected similar allegations of violence reported by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

In December, the European Commission initiated infringement proceedings against Hungary's asylum legislation, stating that “in some instances, [it is] incompatible with EU law.” No further information about the proceedings has been made public.   

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